April 17, 2024


The Netherlands will become the first country in the world to allow involuntary euthanasia of infants, the London Times reports. After several months of deliberation, the government has adopted the so- called Groningen Protocol. This establishes a standard set of procedures for authorising doctors to kill babies with "unbearable suffering".

If a child is untreatably ill," says Dr Eduard Verhagen, the leading figure in drafting the protocol, "there can be horrendous suffering that makes the last few days or weeks of this child’s life unbearable. Now the question is: are you going to leave the child like that or are you going to prevent that suffering?"

Dr Verhagen freely admits that he killed four infants without any legal authorisation. (No charges have been laid by prosecutors.) A father of three children and a paediatrician, he says that putting seriously ill children down "is in some ways beautiful", because he sees them relax for the first time since they were born. "But it is also extremely emotional and very difficult," he told the Times.

Opposition to the Groningen protocols is muted in the Netherlands, but there are critics. "It is a scary thing," says Bert Dorenbos, of the Cry for Life organisation. "Patients, particularly children, will need protection from euthanasia-minded doctors."